On a + note

Sears, Target and Libraryland. #25: 2012

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on August 2, 2012

The large Canadian retailer Sears Canada Ltd. hopes to win back its suburban customer base with a radical redesign of their front end, new clothing lines to better reflect their changing customer demographics and a total retrofit of their 4 flag ship stores in Ontario.

Partly this shift is simple due to the age of the stores and malls they anchor, but more importantly, it is a direct reply to Target moving into Canada this summer and opening over 125 new outlets in urban, high traffic malls across the country.  Sears Canada over the next 18 months anticipates going head to head with Target, over the same customer base. The Sears customer base includes rural shoppers who, on a trip to the city like the one stop shopping convenience that Sears provides. For their suburban shoppers, the convenience of Sears anchoring suburban malls across the country provides easy access and an easy return policy (buy a sweater for Grandma in Toronto and return it in Vancouver…no problem).

Sears is radically revamping the footprint of their suburban stores. They are de-cluttering their stores and removing the huge boxes of merchandise from the aisles (they are not Cosco or Sam’s). They are widening the aisles and “bookended” the prime real estate at the front of the stores with, what in the biz is referred to as “power towers” showcasing popular, competitively priced consumer goods. They are increasing their square footage in areas they see as their most profitable. Square footage for baby and kids gear, shoes (oh yah!!!) and mid priced women’s ware has been increased. Products like mattresses and electronics that have faced mounting specialized competition (think Mattress World or Best Buy) have been decreased by 20-30%.

Now, I am not suggesting that public libraries adopt the Sears or Target retail model; however, I think there are a few lessons to be learned

  • Customer bases change as society changes. The customer base we traditional think of in libraryland may not be as clear cut and universally definable as we may think. We need to be constantly testing and watching our customers…who are they and what are they doing, right now?
  • You know I have to say something about de cluttering and libraries!!! We are packrats…we keep everything…it’s in our DNA. However, a handle on the clutter would make us so much more appealing. When was the last time you took an objective and critical look at the libraries front of house and perhaps removed a few of those signs or dead plants? 
  • Merchandising is not a bad thing. Pushing the product on the library blog or in the front of house is just part of keeping us relevant and it is good business.

We in libraryland should be watching the evolution of Sears over the next year and how Target will be a game changer.  GPL needs:

►to re-evaluate our living rooms and check out areas
►more volunteers to pole and take the temperature of out customers!
►new and better ways to push our amazing products…..books, dvd’s ……
►to re-evaluate our acquisition criteria, does it reflect the changes our customer demographics?

We can learn much from Sears and Target!

Kitty Pope                                                                                                  #25 August  2012


One Response to 'Sears, Target and Libraryland. #25: 2012'

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  1. Mango said,

    A bigger and better online presence, putting together a profile and updating it can be a small investment of your time, compared to not having the ability to connect to customers or friends online.

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